Under the radar

Under the radar

Of the 141 households and businesses being permanently relocated to implement the Emergency Debris Management Project (EDMP), all tenants, resident landlords, off-site landlords, employees and waste-pickers opted for cash compensation (see Friday/Saturday edition), while others chose in-kind assistance. US $6.5 million from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund administered by the World Bank will be used for this purpose, more than half the total estimated budget of $12.5 million involved in the resettlement effort.
Some may feel that persons often living and/or working on public land near the sanitary landfill without authorisation should not be rewarded for breaking the law. Their argument has merit, but in this case the general interest prevails.
St. Maarten is confronting a huge waste processing problem that needs to be addressed because it threatens not just the wellbeing of the population but their very livelihood. The current “Mount Trash” on the outskirts of Philipsburg is not the kind of image a tourism destination wants to keep portraying in the future, particularly to cruise passengers who have it in plain sight as ships enter the harbour.
The frequent toxic garbage fires appear a thing of the past, although smoke can regularly still be seen coming off the dump. Much more will be needed, but people must be removed from the impact area first.
It’s not surprising that many persons want money rather than assistance in moving. For starters, a considerable number of them are immigrants who may decide to return to their home country.
In addition, this offers those concerned freedom to perhaps seek cheaper accommodations and spend part of the amount given on something else. That is their good right, but a word of advice seems in order.
Especially foreigners whose status has not been regulated should make use of this opportunity to try doing so now and government ought to give its cooperation where reasonable. Unless unavoidable, they should not have to continue leading a local existence “under the radar” with all possible consequences.

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